Released: 2009, Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
I was first introduced to My Dying Bride in 1992 through the Peaceville’s VOLUME 4 sampler, alongside some other notable up and coming acts at the time. “Erotic Literature” from the band’s debut full length was the song, and I was hooked from then on. I’ve followed My Dying Bride through their career highs, lows and questionable creative periods, but they’ve always been managed to remain leaders in the crowded melodic doom genre. Their last full length, 2006’s A LINE OF DEATHLESS KINGS was a triumphant tour de force – heavy and driven in all the right places, subdued and ethereal when the mood called for it. It was everything an MDB fan could hope for, but would no doubt be a tough act to follow. As I listened to the band’s newest release, FOR LIES I SIRE, my expectations may have been unrealistically high. Whereas KINGS was up front and direct, FOR LIES I SIRE is a more cerebral experience that takes repeated listens before it fully sinks in.
If you’re familiar with the band’s catalog, the album feels like a progression from ‘95’s THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER, driven by simple, melancholy melodies and Aaron Stainthorpe’s pained vocal wails with occasional diversions into more aggressive territory. “My Body, A Funeral” opens the disc with a simple guitar line and Stainthorpe’s trademark lament before the arrangement opens up to the rest of the band. It’s a beautiful song, but an interesting choice for an opener, given its slow methodical pace. But given the overall context of the album, it’s fitting. “The Lies I Sire” has a simple main riff that’s presented in several layers throughout the song, giving it some different textures throughout the changing verses. “Bring Me Victory” is possibly the most upbeat depressing song I’ve heard in a while and is the first track on the disc to step up the pace a little. “Shadowhaunt” is minimalist in its presentation for the first ¾ of the song before shifting gears at the end with some crunch in the guitars and a hint of growl in the vocals. “Santuario di Sangue (Sanctuary of Blood)” is in more reminiscent of the band’s recent material and is destined to be another classic in the band’s catalog. “A Chapter in Loathing” is a throwback for the fans, with its speedy riffs and angry vocals, it’s good to hear the band open up once in a while.
Creative center Aaron Stainthorpe attempts some interesting dynamics with his vocal delivery, which work in the context of the music – such as the pseudo scowl in “A Chapter in Loathing” and the layers in “Shadowhaunt”. The rest of the band plays their parts amicably, with new keyboardist/violinist Katie Stone driving much of the material presented here. Long time guitarist Andrew Craighan has delivered some monster riffs over the years, but he’s in a more supporting role here, allowing Stone’s orchestration to steal the spotlight. It’s difficult to overstate the impact of the re-introduction of violins to the MDB formula, but it’s an exceptional accent to an already dynamic mix.
Rather than attempt to take the next step forward from their last release, with FOR LIES I SIRE, My Dying Bride has taken a left turn while still travelling in the same general direction. Casual fans might find the album a little hard to digest, but even so the album has plenty of moments that will please. If you’ve traveled with the band over the last 18 years, add another half a point to the review score and add this to your collection.